EDITORIAL: Province stands against pipeline

It will be interesting to see the stance taken by the federal government after this announcement from Victoria

Those who believe an increase in tankers on the Salish Sea mere kilometres from Parksville Qualicum Beach is something to be avoided at all costs have a government in their corner and it’s not the one you would expect.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberals were elected, in part, on promises of more respect for the environment and more respect for science. As with most things related to Liberal promises, it was all vague and difficult to pin down, but more respect for the environment and science was a plank in the catch-all platform of change that appealed to a country that had clearly tired of Stephen Harper and the Conservatives.

The B.C. Liberals (not related) have been known for their free-enterprise feel, a friend of industry and natural-resource extraction. Premier Christy Clark is all in when it comes to liquid natural gas extraction, production and transport, for example. The B.C. Liberals have also eliminated more red-tape challenges for business than any other province in the country, by far.

On Monday, one of these governments publicly announced it could not support Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Expansion Project that would twin the line bringing heavy oil from Alberta to Burnaby, exponentially increasing the amount of tankers in the Strait of Georgia.

That government? Clark and the B.C. Liberals.

“…the company has not provided enough information around its proposed spill prevention and response for the province to determine if it would use a world leading spills regime,” a Ministry of Environment news release stated on Monday morning. “Because of this, the province is unable to support the project at this time, based on the evidence submitted.”

In 2012 the provincial government presented five requirements it said it needed filled before it would support any heavy-oil pipelines. One of them was the need for what it called “world-leading” marine oil spill response, prevention and recovery systems. On Monday, the province said Kinder Morgan has not satisfied that requirement.

While the prime minister has been very public about his opposition to the Northern Gateway pipeline proposal, he has been vague about his stance on Kinder Morgan, although when pressed he has talked about the need to get Canada’s goods to market, a statement some have taken as a show of support for the Trans Mountain plan.

It will be interesting to see if these governments end up in a battle where they find themselves on unfamiliar sidelines.

— Editorial by John Harding